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  • Thumbnail for Japanese Women Practicing  Firing Rifles
    Japanese Women Practicing Firing Rifles

    These women are learning how to fire rifles in an effort to help the Japanese fight during WWII.

  • Thumbnail for Flame Vessel
    Flame Vessel

    Pottery piece dating from circa 5000 BCE. Often referred to as a "flame" vessel due to the elaborate ornamentation on the lip.

  • Thumbnail for Flower Container
    Flower Container

    An example of Agano ware used during the tea ceremony.

  • Thumbnail for Birds and Flowers
    Birds and Flowers by Tohaku, Hasegawa (1539-1610)

    This folding screen, originally the left half of a pair, is considered an early work of the artist Tohaku. Birds and Flowers demonstrates Tohaku's debt to earlier Kano artists and to the painting traditions established by Sesshu Toyo.

  • Thumbnail for Saddle and Stirrups with Design of Reeds and Dew
    Saddle and Stirrups with Design of Reeds and Dew

    As early as the Heian era, warlords owned and used saddles with elegant lacquered designs. This saddle was owned by Hideyoshi. An inscription on the saddle suggests that it is an older structure that was redecorated for Hideyoshi.

  • Thumbnail for Heartbreak

    Recipients of ashes of the war dead were hard pressed to find solace in the thought that their beloved had the honor of dying for the Emperor.

  • Thumbnail for Shrine on the Island of Miyajima
    Shrine on the Island of Miyajima

    Central to Shinto is the belief in divine begins (kami) which traditionally inhabit heaven and earth. Divine status is attached to anything which is striking, elevated and beautiful or possesses outstanding qualities: in brief, anything which awakens a sense of awe. In this way, things of natural beauty, mountains and seas, human beings, plants and animals can become gods. Symbols of every Shinto shrine are the gateways (torii), which in their simplest form are two pillars topped by a cross beam.

  • Thumbnail for Twenties Ladies
    Twenties Ladies

    The bolder Japanese women of the 1920s imitated the dress of their Western sisters.

  • Thumbnail for School Uniforms
    School Uniforms

    As I was eating breakfast one morning, my host-sister, Yuuki-chan came down in her school uniform. Even though she went to public school, she was required to wear a uniform.

  • Thumbnail for Kimono

    A St Olaf student being dressed in a kimono by her host family. The host mothers were trying to figure out how to tie the obi when this picture was snapped.

  • Thumbnail for Kamakura Shrine
    Kamakura Shrine

    A cat enjoys some sun at a shrine in Kamakura.

  • Thumbnail for Battle of Lepanto, Detail B
    Battle of Lepanto, Detail B

    See the Battle of Lepanto screen description, soc000618

  • Thumbnail for Nara Shrine
    Nara Shrine

    A wooden trellis at a Nara Shinto shrine being used to hang fortunes on.

  • Thumbnail for Couple at Coffeehouse
    Couple at Coffeehouse

    A couple enjoys their morning coffee and donuts.

  • Thumbnail for Horses
    Horses by Sunraku, Kano (1559-1635)

    This pair of ema [votive paintings] were produced by Kano Sunraku, one of the most gifted artists of the late Momoyama and early Edo periods. Admired for their strength and speed and venerated for their innate, resolute spirit, horses have played a conspicious role in Japanese religious practices, ceremonial rites, and warfare since ancient times. Early accounts describe how horses were used in Shinto shrines, where their participation in solemn rituals was thought to be efficacious in precipitating rainfall or, conversely, in discouraging excessive rain and restoring good weather. To carry out these objectives, shrines were equipped with a pair of good animals, one of a dark hue, to cause rain to fall, and a second, with a light coat, to bring back the sun. Horses, in addition to their function in rites intended to affect the weather, had a more basic role as messengers and intermediaries between the temporal world and the Shinto gods. - abridged from catalogue entries by Money Hickman.

  • Thumbnail for Noh Mask: Yamanba
    Noh Mask: Yamanba

    Yamanba describes an otherworldly being who lives deep in the mountains. As the goddess of the mountains, Yamanba lives far outside the human community and is both respected and feared. The Yamanba mask is used in only one Noh play, Yamanba, written by Zeami in his later years, after he had experienced disfavor, exile, and personal diappointment, and it reflects a deeply Buddhist vision. In the play a young dancer, known as Yamanba because of her powerfully evocative performance impersonating the mountain goddess, travels on a pilgrimage through the mountains and meets the real Yamanba, who is portrayed in the first half of the play with a mask used to represent middle-aged women. After revealing her true identity to the girl, she returns in the second half of the play, wearing the Yamanba mask, and through dance and poetic song reveals the depth of her feeling. She describes herself as suspended between two world, the human world and the supernatural world, the world of attachment and the world beyond all emotion. - Andrew Pekarik

  • Thumbnail for Oyoroi or "Great" Armor
    Oyoroi or "Great" Armor

    According to Hosokawa family tradition, this set of armor was worn in a 1358 battle in Kyoto by Hosokawa Yoriari, the founder of the family. Much of the original assemblage hat protects the body has survived: the cuirass and its pendant kusazuri (protective skirt), including the entire waidate (right side guard), and the kyubi no ita, which is suspended from the left shoulder over the chest. The two expansive osode (large upper-arm guards) are replacements dating from the sixteenth century and the sendan no ita, which would have been suspended from the right shoulder over the chest, is missing. The hoshi kabuto (star helmet) is made of narrow trapezoidal iron plates fixed with rows of neatly assembled rivets. The right-hand flap of the shikoro has lost several of its lacquered lames, a reminder of a sword blow during a fierce battle. - abridged from Shimizu, "Japan: The Shaping of Daimyo Culture".

  • Thumbnail for Kosode

    The kosode was the principal Japanese outer robe from the sixteenth century on, having previously served as outer garment for the lower classes and as undergarment for the upper classes. From the kosode evolved the modern kimono. Kosode literally means small sleeves," a reference not to the length or width of the sleeves themselves but to the size of the wrist openings. This kosode is a representative example of the Kanbun style of kosode decoration that was particularly popular during the Kanbun era (1661-1673) of the Edo period. On the back of this kosode, large overlapping maple leaves form the arc across teh shoulders to the right hem, with the red figured satin (rinzu) background exposed on the left." - Kawakami Shigeki

  • Thumbnail for Empty Warehouses
    Empty Warehouses

    Storage space near Edo Bridge in Tokyo abounded once Japan began to actively trade. With demand larger than supply,the goods went directly to the port cities,leaving warehouses in Tokyo empty.

  • Thumbnail for Candy Store Display
    Candy Store Display

    A display at a candy store.

  • Thumbnail for Inkan

    Family name stamps for easy-to-read kanji.

  • Thumbnail for Noh Mask: Usobuki
    Noh Mask: Usobuki

    Kyogen, the comic drama in which such subjects as old tales and the problems of real peopple are treated with humorous actions and witty dialogue, uses some masks, though the number of mask types is much mor limited than for Noh. In contrast to the serious quality of Noh masks, those for Kyogen are characterized by their humorous nature, with amused expressions, or by deliberate exaggeration and distortion. Usobuki represents the latter type. The name implies several possible meanings, including to feign innocence, to whistle, or to shape the mouth as though blowing a fire. The mask is worn by both human characters and the spirits of fragile creatures such as the moth, mosquito, or cicada. - Matshushima Ken

  • Thumbnail for Noh Mask: Okina
    Noh Mask: Okina

    Expressing the joyful face of an old man, the Okina mask is worn by the main character of the liturgical Noh piece of the same name. Okina, a prayer for peace throughout the land, a rich harvest, and prosperity, occupies a special place in the Noh repertoire. Consisting mostly of ritual dancing and chanting, with no dramatic plot, its structure is totally different from other Noh plays. Its origins predate the Muromachi period when Noh was perfected. The hinged jaws of the Okina mask are a feature found also on pre-Noh dance masks; the bushy eyebrows and treatment of the eyes also distinguish this from other Noh masks. - Matshushima Ken

  • Thumbnail for Nokan Flutes and Cases for Noh Drama
    Nokan Flutes and Cases for Noh Drama

    Bamboo flute with a mouth hole and seven finger holes. The nokan is the only wind instrument among the instruments used in Noh,and functions as a rhythm instrument.

  • Thumbnail for Lady of Pleasure
    Lady of Pleasure

    Flanked by personal maids and swathed in layers of silk brocade, the woman in this photo was of a rank that only the wealthy could afford her.